Gacaca courts have lessons for region

Saturday April 14 2012

I had an engaging discussion with a white South African researcher on a Kigali-Entebbe flight about a year ago.

She’d been to Kigali to study the Gacaca courts. According to her, the system provides “transitional justice,” and cannot qualify to be counted among known justice systems of the world.

I knew she would not be convinced, but I told her about my experience with the Gacaca system, since I had attended several court sessions and witnessed numerous projects by the rehabilitated genocidaires, who were now living in harmony with their neighbours.

Her argument was the typical Western stereo-typing: “This is not a codified justice system, so it only remains transitional justice.... it lacks provisions for the accused to have access to legal representation....fair hearing...fundamental human rights.... and the usual copy-paste language of ‘rightists.’

But there’s something East Africans can learn and adopt from the Gacaca system? Are we waiting for “foreign experts” to do it for us?

What would it take for our universities to undertake studies into the Gacaca and related justice systems in the region, to come up with our own home-grown judicial system?

If we can have Khalid courts, why not have provisions for the growth our system, based on our value systems? Our thinkers and planners, our task is cut for you.

Matsiko Kahunga

Africans must learn to trade with each other

In an increasingly global world, African countries should trade more among themselves.

Asia, Europe and Latin America long discovered the trick and increased trade among themselves.

A growing middle class on the continent is giving hope that trade can thrive in Africa.

Improved connectivity through investment in infrastructure projects is making Africa an emerging giant in international trade.

Kenya and her Eastern Africa neighbours are working on the Lapsset –Lamu port-cum-road projects. This is the direction the continent should take to empower its people economically.

It is estimated that the projects will have far reaching economic implications to the region upon completion.

Tourism is one of the sectors likely to receive a major shot in the arm with increased transnational movement of persons.

Reliance on the traditional source markets of Europe and North America is limiting the growth of the sector.

African tourists will not be restricted by the negative travel advisories as is case with western tourists.

That way the dollar rich sector will thrive throughout the year without depending on seasons.

It is up to the African governments to promote commerce among their nations. Genuine development is homegrown.

Tokenism by the western powers has the net result of breeding dependency syndrome.

Our continent should strengthen governance by establishing strong functional institutions for development to take place.

Let the corrupt deals that deny the masses economic prosperity be a thing of the past.

We are a rich continent capable of managing our own affairs. The future is bright for the continent if Africa trade with itself.

Bernard Amaya

IEBC meeting was timely

The meeting of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials with representatives of 47 political parties was a move in the right direction.

The commission’s motive of discussing the elections’ timetable and implementation of Political Parties Act could not have come at a better time.

There is an apparent need for elections to be held in a tranquil environment.

The last general elections were marred by numerous discreditable incidence Kenyans would never want raked up.

IEBC should therefore give its all in taking the country away from the miasma of ethnic hatred and violence of the past.

To begin with, any potential threat to security should be identified and consigned to oblivion.

Secondly, through intense civic education, the electorate should be sensitised on voting rights, the importance of voting and manner of voting.

Thirdly, aspirants deemed to have a penchant for elections’ mischief should be barred from contesting. IEBC should forewarn them of the consequences of flouting election rules.

Mechanisms should be put in place to curb double registration and other election malpractices.

If indeed there will be 45,000 polling stations as alleged by acting IEBC chief executive James Oswago, elections are likely to be carried out expeditiously.

Kenyans do not want melees to be the modus operandi during elections.

Dennis Mbae